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AstraZeneca’s presence in China boosted by Lynparza approval for ovarian cancer

Analysts said the prevalence of the BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer is higher in China and the approval will boost AstraZeneca’s already strong performance in the region

AstraZeneca - AstraZeneca’s Lynparza approved in China as first ovarian cancer treatment of its kind

AstraZeneca PLC’s (LON:AZN) Lynparza drug was approved by Chinese authorities as a first-line maintenance treatment for women with certain types of ovarian cancer.

Lynparza is the first PARP inhibitor approved in China for cancer presenting mutations in the BRCA gene, having already been approved in the other geographies where AstraZeneca is competing with rival GlaxoSmithKline PLC’s (LON:GSK) drug Zejula.

READ: Addition by subtraction: AstraZeneca continues to slim down

PARP – or poly-ADP ribose polymerase – is a protein which helps damaged cells to recover. Taking a PARP inhibitor stops it from repairing cancer cells which then eventually die.

While 70% of women with ovarian cancer relapse within three years of initial chemo treatment, Lynparza, which is a result of a collaboration between AstraZeneca and Merck & Co Inc. (NYSE:MRK), has been proved to significantly increase progression-free survival.

Further growth expected in China

Analysts at Shore Capital said the prevalence of the BRCA-mutated ovarian cancer is higher in China and the approval will boost AstraZeneca’s already strong performance in the region, where it delivered growth of 40% in the third quarter.

In terms of the collaboration with Merck, more than half of the total US$405mln revenue posted in the quarterly results was related to Lynparza.

The drug, which is expected to reach peak sales of US$3.2bn by 2024, brought in US$847mln sales in the year to October, of which ShoreCap estimates US$90mln come from three regulatory milestone payments, with potential for an extra US$1.6bn to come.

The Chinese approval could mean another milestone payment of between US$30-70mln, according to ShoreCap.

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